The Garden City Telegram
1/3/2014
SOUTHWEST LIFE

ZOO TO YOU: Keep conservation in mind in 2014

The world has spun around 365 times and completed yet another orbit around the sun. That means it is time to make our resolutions. At this time of the year, we all strive to better ourselves physically, intellectually or socially. This year, I challenge you to make a resolution to become better conservationally. In addition to more exercise, more reading or more time with friends and family, we should all find some small way to become a better steward of our planet.

Every year I try to pick one new thing to add to my daily habits to become a better conservationist. First I started with recycling. Not only are you reducing the amount of waste that is floating around the earth or filling landfills, but you are also reducing carbon emissions. It takes a lot of energy to turn a rock of bauxite into the metal we know as aluminum. But it takes far less energy to simply melt and reshape the aluminum we already have. By recycling one can of aluminum you save enough energy to power a laptop for more than five hours.

My next resolution was simply to switch to CFL light bulbs. CFL lightbulbs use one-fifth the energy and last 10 times as long as incandescent. Even better than CFL bulbs are LED lights that use even less energy and last 25 times as long as standard lightbulbs. This simple switch not only helps reduce your carbon emissions, but also reduces waste production. When I moved into a house I made the resolution that we would begin to compost our organic waste. This drastically reduced the amount of trash we made and reduced my need to purchase fertilizer for our garden. To speed up the process you can make a worm bin for your home, which is easy, clean and odorless.

Another year I began commuting to work via my bicycle whenever possible. Not only did the amount I spent on gas each month decrease by half, but I was able to kill two birds with one stone. Biking to work not only counts for a conservation resolution but also for a fitness resolution as well.

Last year I simply put our entertainment center on a surge protector. Even when turned off, the majority of our electronics are drawing power. They go into a "standby" mode. The only purpose of "standby" is to speed the process of turning on the device. So instead of taking two minutes for the DVD player to start it only take 30 seconds, but the cost of those 90 seconds is for the device to be on and drawing power 24/7. By connecting everything to a power strip or a surge protector we can unplug all of those devices with the flick of a switch. That way we are only drawing power when we actually need it rather than the other 20 to 22 hours that we don't need it.

This year my resolution will be to avoid the use of Styrofoam. Styrofoam cannot break down. It can crumble to styrene which is toxic to humans and wildlife, but it never fully goes away as far as anyone can tell. From now on I will be bringing Tupperware instead of using Styrofoam containers to bring leftovers home and no more drinks in Styrofoam cups.

These are just examples of multitudes of things you can do for your conservation resolution. Some of these may not be changes you choose to implement, but it's easy to select others that are appropriate and appealing to your lifestyle

By adding just one small lifestyle change at a time, it is easier to make the changes permanent. Even small changes such as using a power strip to turn off unused electronics or simply fixing leaky faucets add up in the end. Let our small deeds together add up to greater impact. Join me in making a resolution to help conservation.